Jamie Collins

This Date In Transactions History: Browns Release Jamie Collins

In January of 2017, the Browns made Jamie Collins one of the highest-paid linebackers in the NFL. Two years later, the organization moved on from the Pro Bowler. On March 6, 2019, Cleveland released the veteran linebacker.

Collins, of course, spent the first three-plus seasons of his career with the Patriots, earning a Super Bowl ring and a Pro Bowl appearance. Despite his production, New England wasn’t too eager to hand the impending free agent the sizable contract he desired. So, in October of 2016, the Patriots traded Collins off to Cleveland. In return, New England received a third-round pick, a selection that’d ultimately pair with a first-rounder to acquire Brandin Cooks (and a fourth-rounder, which was ultimately forfeited due to Deflategate) from the Saints.

Collins continued producing down the stretch of the 2016 season, and the Browns decided to open their check book for him during the following offseason. Cleveland inked the linebacker to a lucrative four-year, $50MM pact, including $26.4MM in guaranteed money, making him the highest-paid traditional linebacker in the NFL. Collins struggled with injuries during his first full season with the Browns, appearing in only six games. However, he managed to appear in every game during the 2018 campaign, finishing with 104 tackles, four sacks, and one forced fumble. Despite the solid numbers, Collins graded out as just the No. 58 ranked LB in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus.

The Browns apparently recognized that Collins wasn’t living up to his lofty contract. The team was reportedly looking to move him during the 2018 trade deadline, and they spent the early parts of the 2019 offseason shopping him around. The front office couldn’t find a taker, forcing them to cut bait with the veteran. The move ultimately saved the organization $9.25MM in cap room versus just $2.5MM in dead money.

Predictably, Collins ended up landing back in New England for the 2019 season, starting 15 games and finishing with a career-high seven sacks. That performance earned him a three-year, $30MM contract with the Lions, where he reunited with former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. The 31-year-old started all 14 of his games in 2020, finishing with 101 tackles, one sack, and three forced fumbles.

Is there a lesson to be learned from all this? Eh, maybe, but it wouldn’t be some new revelation. If a team’s so willing to move on from a Pro Bowler at the end of their rookie deal, that’s probably an indication that the team doesn’t believe the player will be worth his second contract. There were already reports that Collins was freelancing on defense during his final half-season in New England, leading to questions about the player’s commitment to winning.

The Browns not only ponied up financially for Collins, but they also gave up assets to acquire his half-season before free agency. Sure, Cleveland’s probably not kicking themselves over a lost third-rounder (a pick that eventually turned into Saints defensive end Trey Hendrickson), and the organization is two front offices removed from that 2016 administration. Still, if the organization could receive a mulligan on the trade and contract, they’d probably take it.

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Lions Restructure Jamie Collins’ Deal

The Lions have restructured Jamie Collins‘ contract, as Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. Collins will still earn $9MM as scheduled, except with the addition of some voidable years. The exact new cap number is not yet clear, but the linebacker will come in at a lower figure than his slated $11.3MM.

[RELATED: Lions Sign Tyrell Williams]

Collins reunited with old Patriots pal Matt Patricia last offseason. Even though Patricia is out of the picture, Collins will be staying put. He still effectively has two years to go on his initial three-year, $30MM deal.

The 31-year-old (32 in October) logged a career-high seven sacks in 2019 for the Pats, plus 81 total tackles, three interceptions, and three forced fumbles. In his first Lions season, Collins did less pass rushing, but did record 101 stops.

The Lions still have some work to do on that side of the ball, such as finding a replacement for cornerback Desmond Trufant. Meanwhile, they’ve already begun to shape their wide receiver group. Tyrell Williams agreed to a one-year deal this week — the Lions hope that he’ll be serving as the WR2, behind Kenny Golladay.

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LB Jamie Collins Signs With Lions

Jamie Collins is reuniting with Matt Patricia. The free agent linebacker has signed with the Lions, reports Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (via Twitter). It’s a three-year deal worth $30MM, including $18MM guaranteed, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link).

Following a two-plus year stint with the Browns, Collins reunited with the Patriots last offseason on a one-year deal. The 30-year-old ended up setting a career-high with seven sacks to go along with 81 tackles, three interceptions and three forced fumbles. Collins played under Patricia during his first stint in New England.

We’ve heard several times (including earlier tonight) that the Saints were pursuing the veteran linebacker. The Patriots were also hoping to retain their former second-round pick. Ultimately, Collins presumably decided to take the money and the opportunity to team up with his former coordinator.

The Lions were busy this morning, handing out a massive contract to former Eagles offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Tonight, they’ve clearly shifted their focus to the defensive side of the ball.

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Saints Make Offer To Jamie Collins

The Saints are eyeing Jamie Collins. Nick Underhill reports (via Twitter) that the team has made an offer to the veteran linebacker. However, the reporter cautions that “it might take more to close the deal.”

Following a two-plus year stint with the Browns, Collins reunited with the Patriots last offseason on a one-year deal. The 30-year-old ended up setting a career-high with seven sacks to go along with 81 tackles, three interceptions and three forced fumbles.

We heard earlier this month that the Saints could have interest in the veteran, even with the organization already rostering a 30-something starting linebacker in Demario Davis.

Unsurprisingly, the Patriots were also reportedly looking to retain the veteran. New England has already agreed to new deals with a pair of stalwarts in Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater.

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FA Notes: Clowney, Harris, Hooper, Saints

Jadeveon Clowney has drawn interest from other teams — the Colts and Giants among them — but the Seahawks remain interested in bringing him back. However, they may not be ready to pay top dollar for the former No. 1 overall pick. The Seahawks are trying to extend Clowney before he hits free agency March 18, but Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano of ESPN.com report the franchise is unlikely to compete with a true top-market price (ESPN+ link). If the bidding goes into the $18-$20MM-per-year range, which it almost certainly will given other teams’ franchise tags keeping edge players off the market, the Seahawks are not expected to go there. This would mean the Seahawks will have lost two standout edge rushers in two years, after trading Frank Clark to the Chiefs. Seattle, which did not see much from first-round defensive end L.J. Collier last season, is set to carry more than $44MM in cap space.

Both the Colts and Titans are interested and are not afraid of Clowney’s asking price, per Fowler and Graziano. A new entry in the Clowney sweepstakes, Tennessee could use edge help but seemingly has key issues to sort out involving Ryan Tannehill (or a replacement) and Derrick Henry first.

Here is the latest from the free agency market, shifting to one of this era’s top cornerbacks:

  • Chris Harris appears set to have a busy legal tampering period. The four-time Pro Bowl cornerback has drawn interest from the Cowboys, Jets, Lions, Raiders and Texans, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. The final holdover from the Broncos’ dominant Super Bowl-winning secondary, Harris both expressed a desire to finish his career in Denver and hit the market for the first time. While the Broncos have not ruled out another extension for the 30-year-old cornerback, Harris expects to be elsewhere in 2020. Harris met with at least 24 teams at the Combine, including the Cowboys, per Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter). A Cowboys fit would be interesting, with the team set to lose Byron Jones. The Broncos are one of the teams targeting Jones.
  • In Demario Davis, the Saints already have a 30-something entrenched as a starting linebacker. However, New Orleans is interested in Patriots free agent Jamie Collins, Larry Holder of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Collins, 30, enjoyed a bounce-back season back in New England, after he did not justify his then-off-ball-‘backer-record deal in Cleveland. The Saints have A.J. Klein as a free agent-to-be and can save $8MM by releasing Kiko Alonso.
  • While the Saints were willing to let Kenny Vaccaro walk two years ago, they want to retain Vonn Bell, Holder adds. It would be at a price, however. Considering the Saints added promising safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in the fourth round last year and have Marcus Williams as an extension candidate, their Bell price point may be low.
  • The tight end landscape could look strange by the time George Kittle‘s negotiations ramp up. Austin Hooper is expected to become the league’s highest-paid tight end — by a considerable margin — in free agency, Graziano and Fowler note. A 2016 third-round pick, Hooper has made the Pro Bowl twice but has only one 700-yard season on his resume. However, the Falcons tight end was on pace for nearly 1,000 yards before a midseason hamstring injury. The Falcons will let Hooper test the market, and with this draft not deep at tight end, the market will likely be robust. The Bears, Packers and Redskins are interested.
  • Phillip Lindsay has exploded out of the blocks to start his career, becoming the first UDFA to start his NFL run with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. But backfield mate Royce Freeman, a Broncos 2018 third-round pick, has underwhelmed. The Broncos may be eyeing an upgrade, with Mike Klis of 9News tweeting the team is exploring veteran backs on the market. With teams potentially skittish about big deals for backs, after some recent ones backfired, some bigger-name backs may be available at reasonable rates.

FA Notes: Clowney, Conklin, Patriots, Jones

This year’s edge rusher free agency class could be especially deep, depending on how certain teams proceed with their respective franchise tags. But that doesn’t apply to the biggest name. Jadeveon Clowney cannot be tagged and is on track to test the market, and said market may be taking shape at the Combine. Thus far in the process, the Colts and Giants are two teams who have surfaced in connection to Clowney. Both could have interest in the former No. 1 overall pick, per Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Both teams feature edge rusher needs, the Giants more than the Colts, and each holds north of $70MM in cap space.

The Seahawks, however, are not out of the mix. Clowney said (via Anderson, on Twitter) after spending a season in Seattle he would “definitely” like to stay, though the six-year veteran pass rusher added he is open to relocating. Seahawks GM John Schneider confirmed (via ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson) the team wants Clowney back. Seattle has both Clowney and defensive tackle Jarran Reed as free agents, leaving major holes on the team’s defensive line.

Here is the latest from the free agent market:

  • With major needs up front, the Jets are expected to make several additions this offseason. They have expressed serious interest in Jack Conklin, according to Tony Pauline of ProFootballNetwork.com. A four-year starter at right tackle in Tennessee, Conklin will be coveted by many teams and will command a top-market contract. The Jets have deployed a bottom-tier offensive line for years, and the Titans having Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry as looming UFAs will likely send Conklin out of town.
  • The Patriots, who extended Shaq Mason in 2018, are preparing to lose his longtime guard mate. Joe Thuney has been expected to leave since last year’s Combine, per Doug Kyed of NESN.com. Approximately 20 teams have the four-year Patriots starter on their respective radars, Pauline adds. A market like this, coupled with the CBA potentially set to see record cap spikes in the coming years, likely puts Thuney in line to eclipse Lane Johnson‘s $14.1MM guard-record pact.
  • However, the Pats are not giving up on retaining some of their other key free agents. They have spoken with the representatives of Devin McCourty and Jamie Collins, Kyed notes. McCourty played out a five-year extension signed back in 2015, while Collins re-established his value on a low-level Pats accord. The latter will likely be looking for a deal closer to the $12MM-plus pact he inked with the Browns in 2017.
  • Although Chris Harris is the most accomplished cornerback on this year’s market and rated higher by some outlets, Byron Jones is viewed by corner-needy teams as the top prize at the position this year, Pauline notes. At 27, Jones is three years younger than Harris. The Cowboys are likely set to let Jones walk, having authorized numerous recent extensions and are set for crunch-time negotiations with Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. Jones is expected to see big offers from multiple teams, per Pauline, and is almost certainly set to raise the bar from its longstanding place at $15MM per year.

AFC Notes: Collins, Broncos, Raiders, Finley

Jamie Collins held the distinction of being the highest-paid off-ball linebacker for nearly two years. His new deal with the Patriots is less glamorous. Escalators exist in Collins’ one-year, $2MM contract, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com broke them down Sunday. If the eighth-year linebacker plays 50% of the Pats’ 2019 snaps, he will obtain an additional $250K. A 60% snap clearance will mean another $250K. This goes up in 10% increments until the 80% mark, when the incentives increase but also venture into not-likely-to-be-earned territory. Should Collins wind up in the Pro Bowl, he would earn an additional $500K. Collins was making $12.5MM per year on his Browns deal.

Here’s the latest from the AFC, moving westward:

  • It should be expected that Drew Lock is the Broncos‘ backup quarterback once the regular season begins, even after a shaky preseason start. But the Broncos also moved rookie UDFA Brett Rypien into position to challenge Kevin Hogan‘s roster spot. The nephew of former Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien received the third-team reps ahead of Hogan in practice Sunday, Mike Klis of 9News notes. Lock took the second-team snaps. Hogan served as Case Keenum‘s backup last year, after Chad Kelly‘s departure. Rypien could conceivably be a practice squad stash, but Klis views the Broncos as giving him every opportunity to unseat Hogan.
  • On the defensive side of the ball, the Broncos made a move to address their depleted inside linebacker corps. Third-year safety Jamal Carter is now an inside linebacker, with Vic Fangio indicating (via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala, on Twitter) Carter sought this switch. “I’ve been wanting to play this since high school and college,’’ Carter said, via Klis. “I like being in the trenches. I’m a physical specimen. I don’t like being too deep away from arms and contact. It’s going to fit me.” Todd Davis, Josey Jewell and Joe Jones are out with injuries presently. Carter, a 2017 UDFA out of Miami, missed all of last season due to injury and is on Denver’s roster bubble.
  • Set to use Andy Dalton as their starting quarterback for a ninth season, the Bengals did draft another passer this year. Their Ryan Finley fourth-round investment has gone well as the offseason has progressed, and The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. (subscription required) views a Bengals final roster that only includes Dalton and Finley at quarterback. This would mean Cincinnati cutting Jeff Driskel, who was needed for five starts after Dalton’s IR trip last year. A 2016 sixth-round pick, Driskel posted a 31.6 QBR in his 2018 work.
  • The Raiders placed cornerback D.J. Killings on IR on Sunday, doing so because he tore a pectoral muscle in the team’s preseason opener Saturday. Killings, a third-year UDFA, will undergo surgery, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal tweets.

AFC Notes: Jets, Collins, Patriots, Colts

The Jets officially have a new regime in charge. After a lengthy search, New York settled on Joe Douglas to be their new general manager. The Douglas/Adam Gase partnership will certainly be an interesting one, and now all eyes are on how Douglas will proceed with the team. To predict how Douglas will manage the franchise, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com took a look back at his time in Philadelphia and the Eagles’ philosophy under Howie Roseman. Cimini came to several conclusions, including that Jets fans should “watch the early strike” and look for Douglas to wrap up cornerstone pieces aggressively.

Cimini notes the Eagles’ recent early extending of Carson Wentz as the latest example of that philosophy. He also writes that the Jets “have been lagging in this area,” and kicked the can down the road on many of their soon-to-be free agents like Leonard Williams and Robby Anderson. Cimini also has the scoop on some shuffling the Jets did in the front office, including promoting Greg Nejmeh to director of pro personnel. Cimini also writes that Douglas’ track record shows he’ll make the offensive line a priority. It’s “too late for a 2019 overhaul, but this will be one of the stories next offseason,” Cimini says. Keeping Sam Darnold upright is the most important thing for the team, so that would make a lot of sense.

Here’s more from the AFC on this quiet Sunday:

  • Speaking of the Jets, in the same piece, Cimini details what Douglas’ hiring means for some current members of the team. Cimini notes that Gase already got rid of a couple holdovers in Darron Lee and Jordan Leggett, and writes that “you can bet a few more of Mike Maccagnan’s former draft picks will be dropped in the coming months.” Specifically, he names wide receiver Charone Peake, running backs Elijah McGuire and Trenton Cannon, and defensive linemen Nathan Shepherd and Folorunso Fatukasi as among those in danger of being cut. The old coaching staff always swore by McGuire, but a lot of Todd Bowles’ favorites might find themselves on the outside looking in. Shepherd was the 72nd overall pick just last year, so his release would be particularly notable.
  • Jamie Collins was able to come back home when he signed with the Patriots a few weeks ago. The linebacker was drafted by the Pats in the second round back in 2013, and spent the first few years of his career there. He was traded to the Browns for a third round pick in 2016, and Cleveland gave him a massive extension. He never lived up to that deal, and he was released back in March. He only got $250K guaranteed from New England this time around, so many observers assumed he wouldn’t even be guaranteed a roster spot. Mike Reiss of ESPN.com was initially in that camp, but he’s changed his mind recently. After observing how they’ve used him in practice, Reiss now believes the Patriots “have significant plans for him as long as everything stays on course.” Reiss writes that he’s been practicing as one of the team’s top linebackers, and that “the biggest tip-off was his presence as the top right guard on the punt protection unit.” It sounds like Collins is at the very least a good bet to make the team, and could potentially earn back a large role on defense.
  • The Colts raised some eyebrows when they drafted Ben Banogu back in April. Indy took the pass-rusher in the second round, 49th overall. That was higher than many analysts had him pegged, as Lance Zierlein of NFL.com had him stamped with a fourth or fifth round grade. The Colts bet big on his excellent athleticism, and they’ve been experimenting with how to use it. They started him off as a SAM linebacker this offseason, but have been using him at defensive end more frequently recently, according to Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star. The Colts’ defense took a huge step forward last season, and they’re hoping Banogu can help them continue that with his physical traits and speed.

Contract Details: Patriots, Edelman, Collins

A look at the details on recent deals from around the NFL:

  • Julian Edelman, WR (Patriots): Two-year extension. Worth $18.5MM, could increase to $25.5MM with incentives. $9.3MM tied to roster bonuses/performance incentives, $1.1MM in workout bonuses. Cap hits: $6.077MM (2019), $7.166MM (2020), $6.66MM (2021). Details via the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin (Twitter) and The Athletic’s Nick Underhill (Twitter).
  • Jamie Collins, LB (Patriots): One year (original story). $250K guarantee, $100K signing bonus, $900K base salary. $1.25MM injury guarantee. Earnings: $2MM (plays in all 16 games), $3MM (part-time starter), $5MM (starts all 16 games). $3MM cap hit. Details via Volin and via Underhill.
  • Brandon King, LB (Patriots): Two-year extension, $3.5MM. When combined with current deal, contract is three years, $4.875MM. 2019 salary increases from $1.175MM to $1.975MM, 2019 cap number increases from $1.359MM to $1.626MM. Details via Volin.

Patriots Sign Jamie Collins

Jamie Collins is back in New England. The Patriots have agreed to sign the linebacker, according to Jim McBride of the Boston Globe (on Twitter). Terms of the deal are not yet known. 

Collins huddled up with his old team on Wednesday and it didn’t take long for a deal to come together. Collins began his career with the Patriots in 2013 and was a staple of their defense up until 2016, when he was shipped to the Browns. His run in Cleveland didn’t go as planned, unfortunately, and ended with his release in March.

It’s possible that Collins has lost a step since his first run with the Pats, but he could theoretically return to form in Bill Belichick‘s system. When healthy, and motivated, Collins profiles as one of the better off-ball linebackers in the NFL.

Collins managed 138 tackles in 2014 and earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2015 after amassing 5.5 sacks. He was also a key contributor to the Pats’ 2014 team and helped defeat the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX.

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